Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear Dead (Birth)Days

If he hadn't had better things to do, the inimitable Charles Addams would have been 98 today, and I really rather wish he were; we could do with a little more of his mordant point of view in the world today.

Beyond the obvious and enchanting glee in the macabre, the thing I think I like best about Addams cartoons is that they demand something of the viewer; they assume a shared set of references and start from the understanding that you will, as here, be amused by the very idea of one of Velazquez's Meninas staring gravely out from a group that includes a menagerie of her fellow art-history greatest hits.

A splashy musical of the artist's best known creations, his eponymous Family, is apparently making its slow and not-untroubled way to Broadway. Even with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, it's hard to imagine it outdoing not only previous incarnations, but the originals - perfect little vignettes of bizarerie that really don't seem to cry out for a Big Tap Number or whatever else they will do to them.

Sharing the day? Well, it's a mixed bag, ranging from John Abraham's beard girlfriend, Bollywood leading lady Bipasha Basu, to presidential punchline Millard Fillmore. Also celebrating are Butterfly McQueen [insert birthing no babies and/or slapping joke here], eternally dapper character man Alan Napier, actress Terry Moore (forever fixed in one's memory dividing her affections between Joe Young and Howard Hughes), puzzling film success Nicolas Cage, and the ill-fated Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, who came this close to reducing her younger cousin Victoria to the insignificant footnote that she herself has become. Had she not died in childbirth, we would have to put up with books like Eminent Charlottians and have had great aunts who collected Charlottiana. Sometimes destiny knows best.


  1. Addams is a Westfield NJ boy. Our store is in town, so I've got to pull for this latest incarnation of the local boy's creation.

    I'm hopeful that new director Jerry Zaks will pull what is reported to be an okay show with potential into something so much better.

    In its Chicago tryout, there apparently was a tap break in the opening number for Morticia and Wednesday...atop a casket no less.

    Plenty of shows have been fixed out of town and turned into hits. With such a good cast, I"m hoping that happens here.

  2. ** puzzling film success Nicolas Cage**

    I just love you Muscato!
    Although, in my head I'm also thinking, 'what's the big puzzle, If MY uncle was Francis Ford Coppola..."

  3. i'm an idiot. recently, i came upon an addams cartoon that was a baby jane spoof & i didn't grab it. i'm an idiot.